Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thrift, thrift, Horatio.

It's been quite the crafty weekend here at Looking Glass Knits, and also quite the weekend for trying new things. After yesterday's pleasant experience with the tubular cast-off, I was heartened to turn my attention to another finishing challenge that has been waiting around here for a while: the $5 sweater.

Lots of New York neighborhoods have cheapo clothing stores of one kind or another; the one in my neighborhood is called Pretty Girl, and it is full of a mix of cheap off-brand stuff and name-brand stuff that is damaged or otherwise offloaded by the makers. When I last visited Pretty Girl, I picked up a 100% wool sweater with a somewhat expensive label in a gorgeous color for $5.

Can you read that? It says "J. Jill," but it has been slashed through. The only problem was that it was too boxy for my taste. Hence the afternoon of knit-altering! I successfully sewed and cut my first steeks!

First I carefully ripped out the side seams. I was too lazy also to take out the sleeves, which fit me quite well, along with the shoulders and boob area. This took a bit longer than I thought it would because the wool was fine and pretty sticky (though these were good factors for the success of the rest of the project).

Then I hauled out the sewing machine and sewed a line of straight stitches about an inch and a half in from each edge.

Having been lazy about not taking out the sleeves, I curved my line out to the armpit and hoped I'd be able to fudge it into looking okay with my seaming.

Then I seamed up the sides by hand, just inside of this line. This part was identical to seaming a hand-knit sweater. It was a little wiggly in places, but I evened it out, and I was able to fudge the armpit area beautifully.

The finished seam is nearly invisible.

I cut the inside "hems" of the new seam, and the sticky yarn held the ends together so that this raw edge is very neat.

Significantly less boxy.

And the fit? Lovely. In fact perhaps a little too form-fitting, but a little steaming will even that out -- it's always easier to block something a little bigger than to try to shrink something, in my experience.

Yay for my first time steeking! It was easier than I thought it would be. This was a good project to try it out, because if it went horribly wrong, I didn't mind losing $5. But it didn't go horribly wrong, and now I am much more inclined to knit something steeked in the future!

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Okay, I have to rip it out because it's the wrong size, but I needed to share this:

The gorgeous tubular cast-off I learned from TechKnitting.

Just look at that edge:

It's a thing of beauty. And stretchy? Like you wouldn't believe. In fact, so much so that I threaded in a little elastic (visible in the shot above) as I was kitchenering it closed, to make sure it would hold its shape (this is a neckband). What a difference a good finishing technique makes!

In fact, it was so much fun to learn this new finishing technique and have it turn out so lovely that I am looking forward to ripping it out so I can do it again!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Radcliffe Cardigan

Special note: from now until 2/14/10 I will donate 50% of the proceeds from my pattern sales to the American Red Cross for their Haiti relief efforts.

I am pleased to offer my first pattern for sale, the Radcliffe Cardigan. This sweater is a top-down, fitted cardigan styled after the practical but flattering fashions of the 1940s and 50s. With its small vintage details like seed-stitch yoke, slightly puffed sleeves, and demure cable framing the button band, it seems to me like the kind of sweater a college co-ed might have worn to class. So I named it after Radcliffe, the women’s college of Harvard University which formally merged with Harvard in 1977. When I graduated in 1999, mine was the last class of women who received diplomas from both Harvard and Radcliffe.

A unique construction allows the customizability of top-down knitting with the look of set-in sleeves. Because it is knit top-down, the pattern is easily adapted to sizes larger and smaller than those I have written up.


Sizes: women's 32-40" chest
Gauge: 6 stitches and 8 rows = 1 inch
Needles: size 5 32" circular, size 5 double-pointed needles optional
Yarn: 1200-1600 yards DK or sport-weight

Click the Ravelry link below to purchase pattern with Paypal ($5.00).

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A plague of frogs.

It's a little known fact that the natural spawning season for frogs of the superwash merino variety is mid-January.

You may recall the original sweater for which I ordered five lovely skeins of Knit Picks Swish in lemongrass, and one in delft blue, the ill-fated car intarsia sweater. After that project failed miserably for a number of reasons, I frogged it and decided on a top-down raglan sweater with stripes. But, as is perhaps visible in this photo, the act of altering my usual top-down sweater pattern for a worsted weight yarn resulted in a sweater with skinny arms and a body that is easily big enough for a four-year old (in fact, I held it up to my own torso and it looks like it would fit me).

So that, too, has been frogged, in favor of a baby-sized version of the popular Cobblestone Pullover. Of course, being a creature of habit, I had to knit it top-down, and being cheap, I had to cast on for it without actually buying the pattern, a fact which resulted in my not knitting the roll neck of the original sweater. It's okay, though, because I think I will just finish it up with a knit-on i-cord at the neck, which will approximate the same look (I hope).

I really should start thinking ahead before casting things on...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sister Sheep Sweater

Baby sheep sweater #3 is finished, and the pink and blue sweaters look pretty cute together!

Baby Sheep Yoke Sweater #3
Knitpicks Swish DK in asparagus, skyborne, nutmeg, natural and black
Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in apple pink (scraps)
Knitpicks options needles size 5

Hello. I'm your friendly neighborhood sheep.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

one year.

Today is my one-year blogiversary. It's been a great time -- keeping a knitting blog has been even more fulfilling and more edifying than I thought it would be: it's kept me connected to other great knit-bloggers, and often it lit a fire under me when my interest or energy was flagging to know that I hadn't posted in a while. To everyone who has commented or knit one of my patterns, thank you so much! It makes me feel so great to hear from you all, and to see your wonderful work!

This has also been a year of firsts:
first adult sweater
first set-in sleeves
first original adult design
first experience with having other people knit my patterns (and here, here, here, and here)
first kool-aid dying
first figure-eight cast-on
first successful experience with customizing sizes
first reversible cable
first lesson in the necessity of swatching (and here)
first friends' baby! (and here, here, here, here, and here).
first year of my graduate program!

And, as seems entirely fitting, I begin my second year of blogging with a post about the same sweater with which I began my first year: the sheep yoke baby cardigan. I've been working on iteration #3 of this same sweater, perfecting the pattern and knitting up the girl's version so that knitters can see what they both look like. With a charted fair-isle pattern instead of verbal instructions, this has been my most successful original pattern, both in terms of people's seeming to want to knit it, and in terms of nobody's discovering any errata. Unfortunately, the one pregnant person I know is having a boy, so this will be one for the choir auction.

Here's to new year of blogging! And here's a nice little blogiversary (well, actually Christmas, but close enough) gift to end the post: does my Aunt know how to pick presents, or what? Super-fine tipped pens in a great spectrum of colors. Perfect for sketching out fair isle patterns!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

First FOs

Just in time to be quite late for Christmas, I finished a gift for a friend: some lovely Endpaper Mitts in Koigu and Gems Opal. This pattern was a pleasure to knit, and the results are both useful and pretty.

Other things finished in the last few days: one sweater cuff and nine pages of a really theoretically questionable paper...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I got a lovely New Years present in the e-mailbox this morning: a picture of my Dante professor wearing the hat I made him! And doesn't it make him look like he's about to find himself in a dark wood, for the straight way is lost?

I am not Aeneas; I am not Paul... I am Bill Stephany!